When and How to Wash Your Hands

Show Me the Science

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases are spread by not washing hands with soap and water. The Centers for Disease Control recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

The Centers for Disease Control handwashing guidelines were developed based on data from a number of studies. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. It is important to follow these steps every single time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water. Turn off the water, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry your hands.

Washing Hands Prevents Illnesses

Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. Handwashing can prevent about 20% of respiratory infections.

  • Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease and microbes from skin.
  • People frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth without realizing it.
  • Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make people sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can get into food and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of food or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops or toys and then transferred to another person’s hands.

Centers for Disease Control Update | Cloth Face Coverings

The Centers for Disease Control continues to study the Coronavirus data. Updated data  reflects that individuals with the virus can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people in close proximity. For example, when someone is speaking, coughing or sneezing.

In light of this new data, the Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing non-medical cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. For example, in grocery stores, medical appointments or pharmacies. Please be mindful that medical masks are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers.

Coronavirus Resources

Article Resources

Centers for Disease Control | When and How to Wash Your Hands

Centers for Disease Control | Use of Cloth Face Coverings



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